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Mark Twain > Roughing It > Chapter LXVIII

Roughing It

Chapter LXVIII


While I was in Honolulu I witnessed the ceremonious funeral of the King's
sister, her Royal Highness the Princess Victoria. According to the royal
custom, the remains had lain in state at the palace thirty days, watched
day and night by a guard of honor. And during all that time a great
multitude of natives from the several islands had kept the palace grounds
well crowded and had made the place a pandemonium every night with their
howlings and wailings, beating of tom-toms and dancing of the (at other
times) forbidden "hula-hula" by half-clad maidens to the music of songs
of questionable decency chanted in honor of the deceased. The printed
programme of the funeral procession interested me at the time; and after
what I have just said of Hawaiian grandiloquence in the matter of
"playing empire," I am persuaded that a perusal of it may interest the
reader:

     After reading the long list of dignitaries, etc., and remembering
     the sparseness of the population, one is almost inclined to wonder
     where the material for that portion of the procession devoted to
     "Hawaiian Population Generally" is going to be procured:

Undertaker.
Royal School. Kawaiahao School. Roman Catholic School. Maemae School.
Honolulu Fire Department.
Mechanics' Benefit Union.
Attending Physicians.
Knonohikis (Superintendents) of the Crown Lands, Konohikis of the Private
Lands of His Majesty Konohikis of the Private Lands of Her late Royal
Highness.
Governor of Oahu and Staff.
Hulumanu (Military Company).
Household Troops.
The Prince of Hawaii's Own (Military Company).
The King's household servants.
Servants of Her late Royal Highness.
Protestant Clergy. The Clergy of the Roman Catholic Church.
His Lordship Louis Maigret, The Right Rev. Bishop of Arathea, Vicar-
Apostolic of the Hawaiian Islands.
The Clergy of the Hawaiian Reformed Catholic Church.
His Lordship the Right Rev. Bishop of Honolulu.
Her Majesty Queen Emma's Carriage.
His Majesty's Staff.
Carriage of Her late Royal Highness.
Carriage of Her Majesty the Queen Dowager.
The King's Chancellor.
Cabinet Ministers.
His Excellency the Minister Resident of the United States.
H. B. M's Commissioner.
H. B. M's Acting Commissioner.
Judges of Supreme Court.
Privy Councillors.
Members of Legislative Assembly.
Consular Corps.
Circuit Judges.
Clerks of Government Departments.
Members of the Bar.
Collector General, Custom-house Officers and Officers of the Customs.
Marshal and Sheriffs of the different Islands.
King's Yeomanry.
Foreign Residents.
Ahahui Kaahumanu.
Hawaiian Population Generally.
Hawaiian Cavalry.
Police Force.

I resume my journal at the point where the procession arrived at the
royal mausoleum:

     As the procession filed through the gate, the military deployed
     handsomely to the right and left and formed an avenue through which
     the long column of mourners passed to the tomb. The coffin was
     borne through the door of the mausoleum, followed by the King and
     his chiefs, the great officers of the kingdom, foreign Consuls,
     Embassadors and distinguished guests (Burlingame and General Van
     Valkenburgh). Several of the kahilis were then fastened to a frame-
     work in front of the tomb, there to remain until they decay and fall
     to pieces, or, forestalling this, until another scion of royalty
     dies. At this point of the proceedings the multitude set up such a
     heart-broken wailing as I hope never to hear again.

The soldiers fired three volleys of musketry--the wailing being
previously silenced to permit of the guns being heard. His Highness
Prince William, in a showy military uniform (the "true prince," this--
scion of the house over-thrown by the present dynasty--he was formerly
betrothed to the Princess but was not allowed to marry her), stood guard
and paced back and forth within the door. The privileged few who
followed the coffin into the mausoleum remained sometime, but the King
soon came out and stood in the door and near one side of it. A stranger
could have guessed his rank (although he was so simply and
unpretentiously dressed) by the profound deference paid him by all
persons in his vicinity; by seeing his high officers receive his quiet
orders and suggestions with bowed and uncovered heads; and by observing
how careful those persons who came out of the mausoleum were to avoid
"crowding" him (although there was room enough in the doorway for a wagon
to pass, for that matter); how respectfully they edged out sideways,
scraping their backs against the wall and always presenting a front view
of their persons to his Majesty, and never putting their hats on until
they were well out of the royal presence.

He was dressed entirely in black--dress-coat and silk hat--and looked
rather democratic in the midst of the showy uniforms about him. On his
breast he wore a large gold star, which was half hidden by the lapel of
his coat. He remained at the door a half hour, and occasionally gave an
order to the men who were erecting the kahilis [Ranks of long-handled
mops made of gaudy feathers--sacred to royalty. They are stuck in the
ground around the tomb and left there.] before the tomb. He had the
good taste to make one of them substitute black crape for the ordinary
hempen rope he was about to tie one of them to the frame-work with.
Finally he entered his carriage and drove away, and the populace shortly
began to drop into his wake. While he was in view there was but one man
who attracted more attention than himself, and that was Harris (the
Yankee Prime Minister). This feeble personage had crape enough around
his hat to express the grief of an entire nation, and as usual he
neglected no opportunity of making himself conspicuous and exciting the
admiration of the simple Kanakas. Oh! noble ambition of this modern
Richelieu!

It is interesting to contrast the funeral ceremonies of the Princess
Victoria with those of her noted ancestor Kamehameha the Conqueror, who
died fifty years ago--in 1819, the year before the first missionaries
came.

     "On the 8th of May, 1819, at the age of sixty-six, he died, as he
     had lived, in the faith of his country. It was his misfortune not
     to have come in contact with men who could have rightly influenced
     his religious aspirations. Judged by his advantages and compared
     with the most eminent of his countrymen he may be justly styled not
     only great, but good. To this day his memory warms the heart and
     elevates the national feelings of Hawaiians. They are proud of
     their old warrior King; they love his name; his deeds form their
     historical age; and an enthusiasm everywhere prevails, shared even
     by foreigners who knew his worth, that constitutes the firmest
     pillar of the throne of his dynasty.

     "In lieu of human victims (the custom of that age), a sacrifice of
     three hundred dogs attended his obsequies--no mean holocaust when
     their national value and the estimation in which they were held are
     considered. The bones of Kamehameha, after being kept for a while,
     were so carefully concealed that all knowledge of their final
     resting place is now lost. There was a proverb current among the
     common people that the bones of a cruel King could not be hid; they
     made fish-hooks and arrows of them, upon which, in using them, they
     vented their abhorrence of his memory in bitter execrations."

The account of the circumstances of his death, as written by the native
historians, is full of minute detail, but there is scarcely a line of it
which does not mention or illustrate some by-gone custom of the country.
In this respect it is the most comprehensive document I have yet met
with. I will quote it entire:

     "When Kamehameha was dangerously sick, and the priests were unable
     to cure him, they said: 'Be of good courage and build a house for
     the god' (his own private god or idol), that thou mayest recover.'
     The chiefs corroborated this advice of the priests, and a place of
     worship was prepared for Kukailimoku, and consecrated in the
     evening. They proposed also to the King, with a view to prolong his
     life, that human victims should be sacrificed to his deity; upon
     which the greater part of the people absconded through fear of
     death, and concealed themselves in hiding places till the tabu [Tabu
     (pronounced tah-boo,) means prohibition (we have borrowed it,) or
     sacred. The tabu was sometimes permanent, sometimes temporary; and
     the person or thing placed under tabu was for the time being sacred
     to the purpose for which it was set apart. In the above case the
     victims selected under the tabu would be sacred to the sacrifice]
     in which destruction impended, was past. It is doubtful whether
     Kamehameha approved of the plan of the chiefs and priests to
     sacrifice men, as he was known to say, 'The men are sacred for the
     King;' meaning that they were for the service of his successor.
     This information was derived from Liholiho, his son.

     "After this, his sickness increased to such a degree that he had not
     strength to turn himself in his bed. When another season,
     consecrated for worship at the new temple (heiau) arrived, he said
     to his son, Liholiho, 'Go thou and make supplication to thy god; I
     am not able to go, and will offer my prayers at home.' When his
     devotions to his feathered god, Kukailimoku, were concluded, a
     certain religiously disposed individual, who had a bird god,
     suggested to the King that through its influence his sickness might
     be removed. The name of this god was Pua; its body was made of a
     bird, now eaten by the Hawaiians, and called in their language alae.
     Kamehameha was willing that a trial should be made, and two houses
     were constructed to facilitate the experiment; but while dwelling in
     them he became so very weak as not to receive food. After lying
     there three days, his wives, children and chiefs, perceiving that he
     was very low, returned him to his own house. In the evening he was
     carried to the eating house, where he took a little food in his
     mouth which he did not swallow; also a cup of water. The chiefs
     requested him to give them his counsel; but he made no reply, and
     was carried back to the dwelling house; but when near midnight--ten
     o'clock, perhaps--he was carried again to the place to eat; but, as
     before, he merely tasted of what was presented to him. Then
     Kaikioewa addressed him thus: 'Here we all are, your younger
     brethren, your son Liholiho and your foreigner; impart to us your
     dying charge, that Liholiho and Kaahumanu may hear.' Then Kamehameha
     inquired, 'What do you say?' Kaikioewa repeated, 'Your counsels for
     us.'

     "He then said, 'Move on in my good way and--.' He could proceed no
     further. The foreigner, Mr. Young, embraced and kissed him.
     Hoapili also embraced him, whispering something in his ear, after
     which he was taken back to the house. About twelve he was carried
     once more to the house for eating, into which his head entered,
     while his body was in the dwelling house immediately adjoining. It
     should be remarked that this frequent carrying of a sick chief from
     one house to another resulted from the tabu system, then in force.
     There were at that time six houses (huts) connected with an
     establishment--one was for worship, one for the men to eat in, an
     eating house for the women, a house to sleep in, a house in which to
     manufacture kapa (native cloth) and one where, at certain intervals,
     the women might dwell in seclusion.

     "The sick was once more taken to his house, when he expired; this
     was at two o'clock, a circumstance from which Leleiohoku derived his
     name. As he breathed his last, Kalaimoku came to the eating house
     to order those in it to go out. There were two aged persons thus
     directed to depart; one went, the other remained on account of love
     to the King, by whom he had formerly been kindly sustained. The
     children also were sent away. Then Kalaimoku came to the house, and
     the chiefs had a consultation. One of them spoke thus: 'This is my
     thought--we will eat him raw. [This sounds suspicious, in view of
     the fact that all Sandwich Island historians, white and black,
     protest that cannibalism never existed in the islands. However,
     since they only proposed to "eat him raw" we "won't count that".
     But it would certainly have been cannibalism if they had cooked
     him.--M. T.] Kaahumanu (one of the dead King's widows) replied,
     'Perhaps his body is not at our disposal; that is more properly with
     his successor. Our part in him--his breath--has departed; his
     remains will be disposed of by Liholiho.'

     "After this conversation the body was taken into the consecrated
     house for the performance of the proper rites by the priest and the
     new King. The name of this ceremony is uko; and when the sacred hog
     was baked the priest offered it to the dead body, and it became a
     god, the King at the same time repeating the customary prayers.

     "Then the priest, addressing himself to the King and chiefs, said:
     'I will now make known to you the rules to be observed respecting
     persons to be sacrificed on the burial of this body. If you obtain
     one man before the corpse is removed, one will be sufficient; but
     after it leaves this house four will be required. If delayed until
     we carry the corpse to the grave there must be ten; but after it is
     deposited in the grave there must be fifteen. To-morrow morning
     there will be a tabu, and, if the sacrifice be delayed until that
     time, forty men must die.'

     "Then the high priest, Hewahewa, inquired of the chiefs, 'Where
     shall be the residence of King Liholiho?' They replied, 'Where,
     indeed? You, of all men, ought to know.' Then the priest observed,
     'There are two suitable places; one is Kau, the other is Kohala.'
     The chiefs preferred the latter, as it was more thickly inhabited.
     The priest added, 'These are proper places for the King's residence;
     but he must not remain in Kona, for it is polluted.' This was
     agreed to. It was now break of day. As he was being carried to the
     place of burial the people perceived that their King was dead, and
     they wailed. When the corpse was removed from the house to the
     tomb, a distance of one chain, the procession was met by a certain
     man who was ardently attached to the deceased. He leaped upon the
     chiefs who were carrying the King's body; he desired to die with him
     on account of his love. The chiefs drove him away. He persisted in
     making numerous attempts, which were unavailing. Kalaimoka also had
     it in his heart to die with him, but was prevented by Hookio.

     "The morning following Kamehameha's death, Liholiho and his train
     departed for Kohala, according to the suggestions of the priest, to
     avoid the defilement occasioned by the dead. At this time if a
     chief died the land was polluted, and the heirs sought a residence
     in another part of the country until the corpse was dissected and
     the bones tied in a bundle, which being done, the season of
     defilement terminated. If the deceased were not a chief, the house
     only was defiled which became pure again on the burial of the body.
     Such were the laws on this subject.

     "On the morning on which Liholiho sailed in his canoe for Kohala,
     the chiefs and people mourned after their manner on occasion of a
     chief's death, conducting themselves like madmen and like beasts.
     Their conduct was such as to forbid description; The priests, also,
     put into action the sorcery apparatus, that the person who had
     prayed the King to death might die; for it was not believed that
     Kamehameha's departure was the effect either of sickness or old age.
     When the sorcerers set up by their fire-places sticks with a strip
     of kapa flying at the top, the chief Keeaumoku, Kaahumaun's brother,
     came in a state of intoxication and broke the flag-staff of the
     sorcerers, from which it was inferred that Kaahumanu and her friends
     had been instrumental in the King's death. On this account they
     were subjected to abuse."

You have the contrast, now, and a strange one it is. This great Queen,
Kaahumanu, who was "subjected to abuse" during the frightful orgies that
followed the King's death, in accordance with ancient custom, afterward
became a devout Christian and a steadfast and powerful friend of the
missionaries.

Dogs were, and still are, reared and fattened for food, by the natives--
hence the reference to their value in one of the above paragraphs.

Forty years ago it was the custom in the Islands to suspend all law for a
certain number of days after the death of a royal personage; and then a
saturnalia ensued which one may picture to himself after a fashion, but
not in the full horror of the reality. The people shaved their heads,
knocked out a tooth or two, plucked out an eye sometimes, cut, bruised,
mutilated or burned their flesh, got drunk, burned each other's huts,
maimed or murdered one another according to the caprice of the moment,
and both sexes gave themselves up to brutal and unbridled licentiousness.

And after it all, came a torpor from which the nation slowly emerged
bewildered and dazed, as if from a hideous half-remembered nightmare.
They were not the salt of the earth, those "gentle children of the sun."

The natives still keep up an old custom of theirs which cannot be
comforting to an invalid. When they think a sick friend is going to die,
a couple of dozen neighbors surround his hut and keep up a deafening
wailing night and day till he either dies or gets well. No doubt this
arrangement has helped many a subject to a shroud before his appointed
time.

They surround a hut and wail in the same heart-broken way when its
occupant returns from a journey. This is their dismal idea of a welcome.
A very little of it would go a great way with most of us.

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Index Index

Prefactory
Contents
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV
Chapter XXXVI
Chapter XXXVII
Chapter XXXVIII
Chapter XXXIX
Chapter XL
Chapter XLI
Chapter XLII
Chapter XLIII
Chapter XLIV
Chapter XLV
Chapter XLVI
Chapter XLVII
Chapter XLVIII
Chapter XLIX
Chapter L
Chapter LI
Chapter LII
Chapter LIII
Chapter LIV
Chapter LV
Chapter LVI
Chapter LVII
Chapter LVIII
Chapter LIX
Chapter LX
Chapter LXI
Chapter LXII
Chapter LXIII
Chapter LXIV
Chapter LXV
Chapter LXVI
Chapter LXVII
Chapter LXVIII
Chapter LXIX
Chapter LXX
Chapter LXXI
Chapter LXXII
Chapter LXXIII
Chapter LXXIV
Chapter LXXV
Chapter LXXVI
Chapter LXXVII
Chapter LXXVIII
Chapter LXXIX
Appendix

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